CHENNAI: In the uniformed services, as the stars in the epaulettes increase, the distance between the top brass and the rank can be measured in light years. Sure, the welfare of the rank and file is not ignored by those holding the highest office, but seldom is it done with a personal touch.
City Police Commissioner Shankar Jiwal’s report card will have varying grades on matters of policing, but his conduct certificate is sure to have glowing remarks.
As soon as Jiwal took charge last year, he spearheaded an initiative to address the mental well-being of cops, which has now been adopted by the Tamil Nadu government as the ‘Magizhchi’ scheme.
In the last one year, the commissioner has been calling his officers on their birthdays and spending few minutes with them. It’s no mere photo-op either. Jiwal enquires about their personal well-being and the family, especially if they avail a weekly off, say cops.
While this gesture isn’t unusual in the corporate world, it’s a rarity in government departments. When I asked the Commissioner whether it was part of his ‘leadership mantra’, he remarked that it was a decent thing to do and that it gave him an opportunity to interact with his officers — about 22,000 of them — all of whom he wouldn’t interact with otherwise.
Notwithstanding the cynics, a gesture of human decency is a worthwhile quality for other heads of government departments to emulate.